The Tomten (Astrid Lindgren)

The Tomten books are two children's books written by Astrid Lindgren. The books are based on poems by Viktor Rydberg and Karl-Erik Forsslund.

The Tomten books
  1. The Tomten
  2. The Tomten and the Fox

AuthorAstrid Lindgren
PublisherRabén & Sjögren
Published1960, 1965
No. of books2


The TomtenEdit

During the night the people at a farm in a forest are asleep. Only Tomten is awake. No one has ever seen Tomten, the people only know that he is there. Sometimes the people only find his small footprints in the snow. Tomten takes care of the animals and gives them comfort through a cold winter's night. He promises them that spring will be there soon. Tomten also visits the children, who always want to see him. However, they are always at sleep when he comes, so they dream about him.

The Tomten and the FoxEdit

The fox Mickel is hungry and hasn't found food for a long time. At Christmas Eve he comes across a farm in the forest. He comes into the chicken's stable and wants to eat a chicken. However, he is stopped by Tomten. Tomten knows how hungry a fox can be in such a cold winter's night. When a child leaves a plate of groat on the doorstep for Tomten, Tomten wants to share it with Mickel. He tells Mickel that he would share it every night with him if he needs to. Mickel is happy, full and goes back into the forest.


The poem Tomten was written by Viktor Rydberg in 1881. In 1957 the poem was published in the children's magazine Klumpe Dumpe with illustrations by Harald Wiberg. During that time Astrid Lindgren worked as an editor at the book publishing company Rabén & Sjögren. She wanted to publish the poem and the illustrations in a book form and tried to convince the company to do so. In 1960 the book with the illustrations by Harald Wiberg was published by Rabén & Sjögren and was an immediate success.

Astrid Lindgren was so enthusiastic about the book and the illustrations that she also wanted to publish the book in other countries. The publishers agreed to do so, but they wanted Astrid Lindgren to write another text to the pictures, which Astrid Lindgren did. However, she omitted the metaphysical considerations from the poem. This version of the book was released in the same year in Germany. One year later it was published in the United States and other countries. In these countries Viktor Rydberg's name no longer appeared on the book's title, instead Astrid Lindgren's name was mentioned. In 1965 a classic poem by Karl-Erik Forsslund was published next to illustrations of Harald Wiberg in Sweden. For the release other countries, Astrid Lindgren wrote a new text to the pictures. The English edition, The Tomten and the Fox, was published the same year.[1]

2012 – 52 years after the publication of the first German edition of Tomte Tummetott (The Tomten), Astrid Lindgren's version of the book was first published in Swedish. That year the German publisher found Lindgren's original writings in his archives and brought it back to Sweden. The book, which was published in 2012, contains new illustrations by Kitty Crowther.[2] In 2017, the book Räven och tomten (The Tomten and the Fox) was published in Sweden, newly illustrated by Eva Eriksson.

Tomten in other works by LindgrenEdit

Astrid Lindgren also writes about Tomten and the Fox in her other works. Both characters are mentioned in the novel Seacrow Island. The main character Tjorven leaves a plate with groat on the doorstep for Tomten (in the English edition it is Father Christmas), just like her grandmother had done years ago. At the next morning it is empty. While Tjorven is sure that Tomten got it, her friend Pelle believes that the hungry fox, that lives on the island, has taken the food. In the accompanying television series Vi på Saltkråkan, the viewer sees how the fox eats a salami bread that Tjorven puts to the groats. Tjorven believes Tomte had eaten the salami bread.[1] In addition, at the end of the episode, the song Gläns över sjö och strand is sung, which is based on another poem by Viktor Rydberg.


Two Films have been made based on Lindgren's Tomten books.

In 2007 the German film Tomte Tummetott and the Fox was made.[3] The film is a stop motion animation, which has also been translated into English.[4] The English version of the film was released on the German DVD edition of the film (Tomte Tummetott und der Fuchs). The DVD also features the Tomte Tummetott song in English, German and Swedish.

Another Norwegian film adaptation, Reven og Nissen, was shot in 2019. It was first aired on December 23, 2019, in Norway (Reven og Nissen) and on December 24, 2019, in Sweden (Räven och Tomten). The film was produced by Qvisten Animation AS in collaboration with the Astrid Lindgren Company. Reven og Nissen is approximately 9 minutes long and was directed by Are Austnes and Yaprak Morali. The title song for the film was composed by Joakim Berg, the singer of the Swedish rock band Kent.[5] For this purpose, he rewrote the poem by Karl-Erik Forsslund, on which the book by Astrid Lindgren is based on, into a song.[6] The title "Räven och Tomten" song is sung by Peter Jöback and Moonica Mac.[7]


Kirkus Reviews gave the book The Tomten a starred review. The fascinating story and "Harald Wiberg's darkly luminous rendition of a tranquil snowy farm" turn the book into a great bedtime story for children and leave a lot of room for fantasy.[8]

Writer Sarah Moore Fitzgerald thinks The Tomten and the Fox is "gentle, benign and soothing". It was her favorite book as a child.[9]


  1. ^ a b Jens Andersen (2018): Astrid Lindgren: The Woman Behind Pippi Longstocking. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300235135
  2. ^ Törnqvist, Lena (2012). "Tomten är vaken – en bakgrundshistoria". Archived from the original on 2014-12-18.
  3. ^ Material zum Film Tomte Tummetott und der Fuchs, P. 7 (PDF).
  4. ^ "Tomte Tummetott és a róka / Tomte Tummetott and the Fox".
  5. ^ "Joakim Berg skriver musik till Astrid Lindgren-film".
  6. ^ "Julaftonspremiär: Astrid Lindgrens Räven Och Tomten".
  7. ^ "Jocke Berg skriver musik till Astrid Lindgren".
  8. ^ "The Tomten".
  9. ^ "Sarah Moore Fitzgerald: 'Human beings need stories. It's how we make sense of the world'".

External linksEdit